The History of 56 Castle Road, Epsom

Castle House c.1890-1900
Castle House c.1890-1900

1866 OS Map of Castle House
1866 OS Map of Castle House

1895 OS Map of Castle House
1895 OS Map of Castle House

The history of 56 Castle Road is full of facades, stories and mysteries that make it intriguing as well as a fascinating insight into the local history of Epsom. No.56 Castle Road was originally one large farm house and believed to date back to the 18th century. There is also some suggestion that a house has been on this site since the 17th century, however there is no clear evidence of this.

Castle House c.1890-1900The house was dramatically altered in the early 19th century when the two larger parts of the building were added to each end of the house - this includes the gothic castle like part on the northern end of the house. It was at this time that the house became known as Castle House and the former lane way was named Castle Road.

The tithe map of 1843 is the earliest record, listing the house, not yet known as Castle House as owned and occupied by Charles Waite consisting of 2 Rods and 6 Perch (roughly over half an acre). The 1871 Ordnance Survey map shows the house standing isolated between the railway line to the north and the Dorking Road in the south.

No.56 has previously been known as no.44 Castle Road and prior to this no.3 Castle Cottages. In 1883 Charles Waite mortgaged the property to Leopold Joseph Green, when it is believed the property was divided into separate homes.

The early buildings surrounding Epsom Common began to be developed haphazardly from the Middle Ages through to the 18th century. The land was used for farming as well as brick making for the increased population associated with the Epsom Spa.

A number of buildings on the common were also used for laundries during the 19th century. When the brickworks around the common began to decline there was a rise in the laundry business. Washing was hung out around the common but because there was a fee due to the Lord of the Manor many just hung out the washing on bushes. The laundries were predominately in business in the late 19th century until the 1930s.

Laundry workers at Castle Road c.1890-1900The story of the Monks living in the house on Castle Road is unfortunately unfounded and there is no evidence the house was ever occupied by monks. However there is a story of an old gentleman named Mr Whiffin who lived in Castle House and was a famous local eccentric.

Mr Whiffin had a strange habit of forcing everyone he met to kneel down to pray - right where they met. He was quite harmless and apparently went out of his way to help others - but this may explain the origins of the monks and prayer.

The last story associated with this old house on Epsom Common is that the former owner of the castle part to the house also believed there was a ghost in her house - which she saw herself!

Melanie Backe-Hansen
Historian, Chesterton Hyde Park

All images are courtesy of Jeremy Harte, Curator, Bourne Hall Museum (Opens in a new window)
The top and middle images are of Castle House c.1890-1900.
The bottom image is of Laundry workers at Castle Road around the same time


1912 OS Map of Castle House
1912 OS Map of Castle House

Epsom Common resident and local historian, Terry Friday, has contacted us to say that since Melanie Backe-Hansen carried out her research, new information has come to light and he writes:

"The research that I have done over the last five years and having climbed all over the castle and cottages and having taken photographs of just about every feature and view suggests the following:

The Castle cottage group that we see today is a mid Victorian creation that was subdivided and added to in the 1880's. It was during the Late Georgian and early Victorian period that the large number of encroachments on Epsom Common (the Lord of the Manor's common waste land) happened. The evidence to date suggest that the original 1830 Cottage was an encroachment on Epsom Common although some trace may still exist it was largely demolished when Castle House was Built. The first documentation (Deed) was created when the Wayte Family decided to mortgage then sell and clearly states the property know as Castle House was situated on the common of Epsom.

The entry in the January 1883 Deed describes the origins as an encroachment on the common i.e. 'All that land messuage or tenement, orchard, garden and backside lying and being on the Common of Ebbisham otherwise Epsom in the County of Surrey.'

Prior to this deed the property had passed down through the family so no documentation was required apart from wills. Now it was being mortgaged/sold the necessity for a deed arose. In such cases indemnity clauses are written into the deed. There is no evidence to suggest the original cottage had any connection with the farm land to its rear which had well established pedigree of ownership with its own array of buildings. One of its main attraction of the 1830 cottage was the well, which remains to this day (Capped).

Castle House was a "live in" Victorian folly, arranged to be seen from the town side and from the Railway, where people would have seen a castle on the hill. The view we have today is in fact the back of Castle house. The group as a whole was never designed its odd and quirky building detail suggest it evolved and adapted as it grew. Charles Wayte Jnr (a retired Locomotive engineer) seems to have had delusion of grandeur and then ran out of money!!!.

There was no evidence found to suggest that it ever had any religious connections."

1932 OS Map of Castle House
1932 OS Map of Castle House